Select Page

Multigenerational and creative living solutions on the rise in response to affordability challenges

Share this article:

The real estate industry in Canada is adapting to a new and growing trend in the marketplace: multigenerational living. More and more Canadian families are seeking creative housing solutions in light of today’s affordability challenges.

Tim Syrianos, owner of Re/Max Ultimate Realty based in downtown Toronto, says the trend is evident in his market and will continue to impact the real estate industry in the coming years.

“Affordability, or the lack thereof, has definitely driven the consideration for multigenerational living. We are seeing it in neighbourhoods where you haven’t seen it before,” he explains. “You’re seeing types of homes that were single-family being topped up and having the lower level completed, and now you have two to three units where families are able to live together.”


Multi-unit homes with unconventional layouts


A trend he also notes is larger homes in more luxurious neighbourhoods being built to include more than one unit — in some cases, as many as three.

“Based on the cost of housing today, this is something that is definitely going to be considered by many families. There’s been conversation in the past about the bank of mom and dad helping kids — maybe the bank of mom and dad will not help them buy another home but instead, renovate an existing home that allows them to be together. This way, it helps (both) the parents as they’re aging and the younger generations as well.”

Syrianos points out that people looking at these properties might not realize they’re multigenerational homes. Instead of having the traditional single door in front of the home, there are perhaps two double doors side by side with a bay window. One door could go straight upstairs while the other door goes to the main floor and lower level.

He says builders are starting to build homes with this in mind. “Builders are being contracted specifically for it. They’re not really going to market and build them as common. They’re being contracted for that for the most part at this point,” adds Syrianos. 

“There are builders that I know and I have personally spoken to that are specifically building those types of opportunities for people, but not in the luxury market as much as we’ll say the ‘missing middle’ market.”


Not enough homes for multigenerational living: Finding solutions


Richard Mariani, sales and marketing manager for CountryWide Homes, says there are not enough homes being designed properly for multigenerational living, since much of the land isn’t conducive for that particular layout.

“But it’s something we felt the market had been requesting and the feedback from our sales team was that we had a lot of buyers coming here and looking to upgrade their house to a larger one. Maybe their in-laws or their parents are getting older, they have an older house (and they) sell both of their houses and buy one from us. We allow them to do that with certain options,” says Mariani.

Recently, the builder broke ground on Sora Vista, a new community in Vaughan, which addresses some of the housing challenges and encourages multigenerational living with fully customizable floor plans.


‘We have to think differently and the buyer has to think differently to come up with solutions’


The multigenerational living trend is happening because of challenges in today’s market with elevated interest rates of recent years. This puts constraints on what people can afford. “We have to think differently and the buyer has to think differently to come up with solutions,” Mariani points out.

For example, homes are built with higher ceilings, allowing buyers to acquire more square footage and the potential to finish the basement to accommodate multigenerational living. Side-door entrances and separate staircases from the mud room off the garage or the side entrance of the house go right into the basement.

“We try to explain and illustrate to these buyers that we’re not just selling houses. This is an asset that’s so valuable to everyone. Everyone needs somewhere to live. You can put two families together, make it economically feasible and have some extra income generated. We’re trying to make everyone win here,” adds Mariani.

He explains that costs aren’t changing — they’re still high, whether for materials or labour — so they’re constantly thinking of innovative ways to give people shelter and be creative.

“That’s how a lot of immigrants start in this country: they live together. It’s nothing new that we’re talking about. People have been coming to this country, they live with family or friends until they can save up enough money, they all work and they all get jobs. We try to give people opportunity in this country no matter where they’re coming from … We want to provide shelter for them and make it affordable in the best way possible by coming up with these new creative building solutions.”


49% of those living with co-owners bought together because they couldn’t afford to on their own


Karen Yolevski, COO of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd., notes the company did a co-owner survey in 2023 which shows that multigenerational households are now the fastest-growing household type in Canada.

“This trend is growing,” she says.

The survey found that 56 per cent of co-owners own a home with their parents or their parents-in-law, while 18 per cent co-own with their adult children. This doesn’t mean they’re all living together — in some cases, it’s for financial support. 

Yolevski says the survey indicated that, of those who live with their co-owner(s), 49 per cent purchased with another party because they would not have been able to afford to on their own. “Especially in Canada, we’ve always seen some multigenerational living. (It’s) very common, particularly in some cultures to have multigenerational living,” she points out.

“Because of the price of houses and the difficulties that particularly first-time buyers are having getting into the market — because it’s very difficult to save up the down payment and purchase prices are so high, (and) it can be difficult to qualify for the mortgage as well — we’re going to continue to see people make this decision based on financial reason. So, finances will be the driver behind multigenerational living.”

Yolevski also feels there will be different formats of the co-owner living arrangement. “We’re not just going to see parents and children living together, but we’ll see more instances of friends investing in a property together, we’ll see more instances of siblings investing in a property together. Different household formation patterns will come out of this.”


Share this article: